City planners report on residents’ priorities for Destination City

Back in the summer residents were invited to a workshop to contribute ideas on how to draft the City Plan 2040 in support of the Corporation’s Destination City programme to attract more visitors.

The results are now published as part of an overall Consultation Statement, and align with a new direction for the programme.

Residents want celebration of heritage gems; more active streets and spaces; better signs and wayfinding – with public toilets, open spaces, food and drink to complement cultural and leisure offers.

The workshop

Here’s presentation slides from the workshop, explaining Destination City and City Plan 2040.

Click/touch X above for full screen, if showing. Alternatively download to view under three dots. 

Practical questions posed at the workshop included:

  • How effective do you think public realm improvements, temporary events and the delivery of interesting spaces through planning will be at making the city a more desirable place to live, work and visit?
  • Do you think some areas in the Square Mile are more in need of cultural investment than other?
  • What is your experience of being in the City? What type of uses and spaces you value the most? – what works and what doesn’t?
  • How can transport and street environment contribute to improving cultural activities and the experience of spending time in the Square Mile?

The results

The workshop results are summarised in the Consultation Statement on p 55:

Culture and Destination City

This session explored the role of cultural attractions in the City, and the way that development can help to create a ‘Destination City’ for the Square Mile. Participants identified the following priorities for the revised City Plan:

  • The need to celebrate the City’s hidden gems;
  • Encouraging an active street culture, with public spaces that have markets, spill-out space, events and activities;
  • Make more of the north bank of the Thames;
  • Ensure we have the right facilities and complementary uses – public toilets, open spaces, food and drink – to complement cultural and leisure offers;
  • Clear signs and wayfinding, and inclusive approaches to public welcome, particularly for spaces accessed through buildings such as roof terraces.

    On P 61 there’s information on how public engagement has now been taken into account in drafting the City Plan. It is a bit technical, but the direction is clear.

    Culture and visitors

    • Significantly revised Policy S6 to reflect Destination City approach, and the City Corporation’s priority to transform the Square Mile into a leading leisure and culture destination.
    • Added a new Policy CV2 requiring major developments to deliver arts, leisure and culture facilities in accordance to the culture planning framework; requiring on-site culture or leisure provision from the largest schemes; and on-site, off-site or contributions from medium sized schemes.
    • Strengthened CV4 to enable the creation of active frontages and provide public access to inclusive facilities such as co-working space, meeting rooms, cafes, restaurants or leisure.
    • Strengthened CV4 to enable inclusive and welcoming hotel lobbies for all and encouraged large-scale hotels to provide public toilet facilities and provide ‘cool spaces’ that provide temporary respite during heat waves.
    • Policy CV5 was revised to include the agent of change principle.

    Destination City review

    Since the workshop in June there have been some changes in the likely direction of Destination City, as I reported here. Initial recommendation from a review of the programme suggest:

    • A focus on visitor numbers and spend needs to be balanced with attention to social inclusion and equity – Destination City must embrace the City’s long-standing and impressive commitment to serving the public good.
    • Destination City is therefore not only about place marketing (although this is essential and needs more attention) but the future development of a liveable, lively and connected City in a uniquely historic, cultural and characterful setting. Future decisions on allocation of the Destination City programme budget should flow from this collaborative approach.

    I don’t know whether the review took into account the City Plan 2040 consultation, but there is some alignment.

    Workshop participants developed a lot of ideas, and it may be that more of these could be fed into the review if they haven’t been already.

    Blog posts about City committee discussions available here, together reports on Destination City and my ideas for a Guide and information hub. The EC1 Echo have also published my article on the review.

    Citizens forums

    Residents will have chance to contribute further ideas on Destination City at a series of Citizens Forum events organised by Councillor Brendan Barns, Resident Representative on the City Envoy Network. The first event is on Monday 15 January 2024 from 6.30-8.30pm. It will be free to attend and hosted at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business at One Bartholomew Close. Sign up here.

    Contact Brendan.Barns@cityoflondon.gov.uk with any other queries or ideas for Destination City.

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